Monday, May 18, 2015

This Week in Television History: May 2015 PART III

Listen to me on TV CONFIDENTIAL:

As always, the further we go back in Hollywood history, the more that fact and legend become intertwined. It's hard to say where the truth really lies.

May 18, 1990
The TV movie "Return to Green Acres" was aired. 
Based on the CBS situation comedy Green Acres (1965-1971). It stars all the then-surviving original cast (Hank Patterson (Fred) and Barbara Pepper (Doris Ziffel) died in 1975 and 1969 respectively). The movie starts with the original opening credit sequence from the series, but in a sepiatone color to tell you that it's been a while since the TV show ended. The sequence turns to color with an added section to the theme song, which is when we see a 20-something year old Arnold the Pig, putting flowers on Doris Ziffel's grave. The Douglas' trusty farmhand Eb (Tom Lester) has married a girl named Flo, who pops out kids every five minutes.

May 21, 1990
The final episode of "Newhart" aired on CBS. 
The series finale of Newhart, entitled "The Last Newhart", has been described as one of the most memorable in television history. The entire town is purchased by a visiting Japanese tycoon, who turns the hamlet into a huge golf course and recreation resort. Dick and Joanna are the only townspeople who refuse to leave. The others accept huge payoffs and leave in a farewell scene which parodies Fiddler on the Roof.
Five years later, Dick and Joanna continue to run the Stratford Inn, which is now located in the middle of the golf course. The other townspeople, now richer and odder than before, unexpectedly return for a reunion. The Darryl brothers also speak for the first time on screen (loudly yelling "QUIET!" in unison). Dick gets frustrated with the increasingly chaotic scene, eventually storming out shouting "You're all CRAZY!" only to be knocked out by a golf ball.
The final scene takes place in a setting previously seen on The Bob Newhart Show. Bob Newhart reprises the role of Dr. Bob Hartley, with Suzanne Pleshettereturning to play Emily, Hartley's wife. Hartley wakes up and explains his weird dream, apparently revealing that the entire Newhart series was just a dream in his head. This parodies the infamous Dallas "Dream Season" from a few years earlier, (and possibly the last episode of St. Elsewhere, in which the entire series turns out to be the imagination of an autistic child). There are several references to Newhart's former show, including the use of its theme song and credits (although The Bob Newhart Show theme was removed from the final closing credit shot in the series' initial syndication run, the theme has been reinstated in the current version syndicated by 20th Century Fox Television). In the MTM logo shown after the closing credits, Mimsie the Cat says what the Darryls shouted in the series finale.

May 22, 1992
Johnny Carson's last Tonight Show. 
As his retirement approached, Johnny Carson tried to avoid too much sentimentality, but would periodically show clips of some of his favorite moments and revisit with some of his favorite guests.

To quote the Bicentennial Minute, "And that's the way it was".

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa
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